A few lovely things in Life

Almost

Can you believe this! Anne leans closer to the cold window and looks at the front yard. All the trees, mailbox, lawn are covered with snow and it is almost seven-foot of snow.

“ I am telling you it is global warming. It may be a fake news or not a science after all for our president but it is the reality.” The nature suddenly has awaken form its torpor and unleashes the worst snowstorm in living memory. O’my! She is cursing the cold in her small,old,one story brick house. They get snow every winter but not type of Siberian winter which has struck Erie, Pennsylvania in error. Snow is always pristine from distance. Her basement, largely below street level and has poor heating. Snow is alway a nightmare. But Anne loves to do her morning yoga and meditation there. The frost-covered glass impedes light from entering through the small window and the inside gloom is hardly dispelled by the naked bulbs dangling from the ceiling. The basement has only the essentials; one long beige colored sofa, a thick oriental rug to cover the floor and a small wooden table with two chairs on both sides. Anne has her yoga mat, exercise balls and barbels in one corner of the room. She loves the quietness of the room.

The storm begins on Wednesday with a heavy snowfall followed by a fierce squall that lashes the streets. The forces of wind causes trees to bend and freezing weather kill many birds who has forgotten to migrate, fooled by the previous month’s warmth. A state of emergency is declared. Most of the offices, library and a few department stores are closed, although it would have been an adventure to visit the stores for Christmas shopping or to buy something special for the New Year’s eve party. Anne does not have to go to the university, so she takes the advantage of unexpected freedom to decorate her house elaborately for the upcoming New year’s eve party. She has arranged all her beautiful collection of clocks on the mantel as a countdown decor, has folded colored paper cubes to make decorative strings of lights, has taped giant confetti to her bare stone wall in the front living room.

“ Hopefully, all our family members and friends will make to the party.” She opens the thick wooden blinds from the window and glances outside. It is still snowing. The two tall red pine trees in the front yard of her neighbor’s house are almost covered in snow. She spots their puddle running around in the snow wagging her small black tail.Anne hears her husband Richard’s footsteps in the kitchen.

“ Good morning! You have already started baking!Let me know if you need any help.” he turns round and opens the back door to let the dog out. “Wow! Look at the snow! And it is still snowing! It is like the North Pole in here.” The bitterly cold wind fills the kitchen. He comes back into the kitchen closing the door. “ For the love of God, turn the heating up, don’t be so stingy.” Richard increases the thermostat and returns to the kitchen . “ A hot cup of strong coffee will do miracle.”  Richard makes coffee and takes a sip. “ This is wonderful! He walks towards the kitchen window and glances outside towards the snow.

“ I am not sure if guests will be able to drive here. Look at the snow fall.”

“ Let’s keep our finger crossed.”

“ I have an idea. We should prepare some healthy stuff for this party. Like sautéed Brussels sprout,avocado salad roll ups, Stuffed mushroom with feta cheese, garlic.”

“ We have most of the items and let’s go through the list first before adding up more items. I have already made green pea soup with carrot and celery, Mexican spicy corn bread and zucchini chips.”

“ That sounds wonderful. Hey, do you remember that tonight is Nora’s performance in  Warner?”

“ Yes, I do and we will try to make, it but we have to check if the theater will open tonight.”

Anne leaves the room to get her cell phone and confirms that it will open just one hour before the play starts.

Nora is Anne’s adopted daughter. She was five years old when they adopted her.She is the best gift in Anne’s life. Anne had all the fun with Nora helping her in homework, making school projects, playing Barbie, building legos, riding bicycle. Nora has given her the happiness that she will never find anywhere else in life. Nora is always gets lost in the maze of a feverish imagination and boundless curiosity, constantly wearing her heart on her sleeve, weeping for suffering humanity and mistreated animals. Anne has helped Nora several times in rescuing animals. And Nora always love to act. She has worked in school dramas, college plays. Theater arts is her favorite subject. Tonight, seventeen years old Nora plays the role of Mary and Nick her best friend, plays the role of gorgeous George of the story “It is a wonderful life”- a Christmas comedy-drama  based on the short story ‘The Greatest Gift’. “ In the story,they are both optimistic,innocent idealistic. George dreams big and is driven by a thirst of adventure. But he sometimes misses the truth what is right in front of him that Mary, the prettiest girl in town, is destined to be the great love of his life. Nora loves the story because it teaches loyalty and devotion. George Bailey is the poster boy for loyalty. He is epical loyal to his family, his business and to Bedford Falls. While they are practicing in the back stage Nora suddenly stops.

“Come on bring the words to life and give them more emotion.”

“Fancy talk. I don’t know how to.”

“Imagine that you are telling a story to a friend and he wants to know every detail of the story.  You should tell with some emotion, more details.”

Nick nods.

Richard gets out of the house and shovels and tries his best to clear the snow from their driveway. Around five in the evening they set off in their Lexus, travelling twelve miles until they reach downtown theater district.The road is slippery and hard to drive. The car headlights reveals a desolate cityscape as Richard drives cautiously, peering out through the semicircle free of frost on the windshield.The streets seems like those of an unknown city; for a minute her thinks he is lost,even though he has taken the route so many times before. Time seems at a standstill. The hum of the heating blower and the relentless back and forth motion of the windshield wipers give the impression that the car is suspended in a heavy fog. Anne from the passenger sit sighs.

“It is so dark! Drive slowly. The roads are so slippery!” Anne turns her face towards Richard.  “  It is only for Nora’s sake that we are coming. We can not see her sad.”

“ I understand. Don’t worry.” He concentrates in driving.

It is almost six thirty when they reach at the theatre. The parking lot is full.

“It is surprising to see all these cars!”

The decoration inside the building is mesmerizing! The room is full, instead of roadblocks and snow storm. The whole family took the front row straight across.The show is a huge hit. Anne hugs Nora after her performance. Nora looks very pretty with broad shoulders, a long neck and sparkling, spinach colored eyes. Her strapless blue chiffon dress with narrow chiffon ruffle neckline is breathtaking.

“ Both of you did  such a wonderful job! We loved your acting!”

“Thank you mom. I am glad that everybody came to see the play in this severe weather.”

“ This is your first performance on stage and we could not miss that. I can say confidently that It will be a promising new year for you.” Anne laughs hugging Nora.

 

 

 

 

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Life from different angles

Inhabit

Her quiet and lonely life  has lasted for almost a year. One foggy week goes by, then another. One silent evening is followed by another silent evening. One cloudy day, after visiting the last patient, Liz drives to a nearby town to meet her friend Mei, a writer. Mei opens the front door holding the I-pad in one hand. A warm smile flashes on her small round face.

” Liz! After a long time! It is so nice to see you. Come in.” She closes the door from behind  and Liz takes off her shoes before walking into the living room. On the rectangle coffee table there are magazines and books are in a big pile. A few candles on one small table in one corner of the room. As Liz sits on the beige couch, Mei glances at her face.

” How are you Liz? I tried to call you so many times and even e-mailed you but I never received any reply! You need to let it go and move on with life.” Mei touches her shoulders.

” It is not that easy, not at all. But I am keeping myself busy in the clinic.” Liz replies slightly touching her ring then she pauses. ” How is your Novel coming?”

Mei brings the i-pad  and opens the goggle drive. She lets her friend read the story while she walks into the kitchen to prepare some tea, something to calm her friend. It is a pretty long story. Mei is almost forty and has been working on the novel for the two years now. she is a great believer in revision and revises each section on the novel six or eight times before she goes to the next chapter. Each time Liz comes, she reads hundred pages more. In many respects it reminds her of Henry’s screenplays. In one sentence the story might leap thirty years ahead and then in the next leap sideways two thousand miles across. But she loves to read her friend’s novel. Mei comes back to the room holding a small tray with two beautiful floral tea cups.

“This will help you relax.” Liz lifts the cup. The aroma of the tea wraps her as she sips the tea. Mei takes the I-Pad and starts to read her own story for a minute or two. She turns her head towards Liz and starts to talk on editing her story.  She concentrates more on her writing. After an hour or two of flipping a few magazines and reading the new edited lines of Mei’s story,Liz decides to leave.

” It is not nine yet. Stay a little longer and I will be done soon. Afterwards we can talk and watch a movie together.”

” It is fine Mei. But I have to leave. Tomorrow I have two meetings between eight to ten in the morning. Good night!” they hug each other.

After one week,on a partly sunny day, just after the announcement of a upcoming hurricane, Liz flies to Chicago to meet her friend Adel, a wonderful artist and her college friend. It is late afternoon when Liz reaches in Adel’s house. They sit in his dining room and talk for a while touching different events of their lives. On the table lay one or two sketch pads, sketch pens and a few almost completed sketches on one side of the table.

“The light is fine today,” he says “It seems to melt a little around the point where the water met with sand. Not at all like yesterday.”

“It was too bright Yesterday?”

She grimaces. “Too flat?”

” How is your clinic and the new patient?” Adel asks.

” It is very busy in the clinic and the new patient is getting stronger. she is seventy five but the surgery went well.”

Liz appreciates him as a kind and thoughtful man but does not like him when he is totally engrossed in his art! Liz leans over from her chair and touches his arm, and he stops sketching the dog until she moves her hand away.

” I came to see you after a long time and instead of talking to me you are concentrating on your sketch.”

” Sorry!” he says lifting his eyes from the sketch, then he frowns on the dog. ” I haven’t figured out the light,” he says. ” If I can’t understand simple light, forget about the stone sculptures.”

“It is the same light wherever you are, only your angle changes.” She shifts her chair closer. One of the cook places two cups of coffee between them on the table.

” We are good friends,” she says.

“Indeed, you are welcome to stay here in my home until you decide something else to do.”

Thank You for the invitation but I am needed in the clinic. I can’t leave it in short notice.”

Adel gives a short laugh that sounds precisely like the first abrupt sounds of a boiling kettle. ” You need someone to be with you and about the clinic. you can open one here and start your practice.”

Liz is surprised. ” It is not that easy to close one and open another in a completely different city. ” She glances at his face. ” Also what is the point of moving here? I will be busy in the clinic and you will never have time to spend.”

Adel sketches an errant line in the  dog’s tail and rubs it with his thumb. Then he stops.

” We are friend Liz. I will stand by you and give you company whenever you need. You have to make a decision. You have to be brave like Jules Verne who went twenty thousand leagues in search of the vastness of the sea.” He tosses his head back. “It is impossible for you to understand.”

” Now a days I stand alone in the early morning hours, where there are no foot prints besides my own behind me and I can feel a stark of emptiness in my heart. I understand everything very well.” Liz reaches right over and takes a sip of the hot coffee. Adel shakes his head and looks at Liz. ” He is gone Liz. You need to get over it and start a new life. I am serious.”

Liz glances at him. He starts to fidget with the sketch book like a young boy in school. She wonders how long she would have to sit with him before she could reasonably escape. Liz thinks of all the people she has met. She wouldn’t miss any of them and none of them would spend even a moment wondering of they would miss her. Each of them would fade in the other’s mind like paper dolls in a sunny window.

Stand Tall

Blossom

One bright Saturday morning, just after breakfast Isaac drives to a nearby mall in a rundown car with his father. He sits in the front seat, behind the rustiest door. It is fun to drive with his dad. He loves how the tires float sideways in the wet road or when his dad honks the horn. It sounds like the Sesame street blue monster bopping its nose. The mall is full of people and on each door of the store it says “Don’t miss the Father’s day sale”. He takes a sip from the  grape juice bottle as his dad takes him to the glass elevator. “ So dad, I wonder if all these people are buying gifts for their dad. If you say yes, then I should buy something for you. Right?”

Isaac’s father pulls him to one safe corner inside the elevator and adjusts the small front pocket on his son’s faded blue t-shirt. “ May be they are shopping for father’s day or they may be going to watch movie. Remember the school is out for summer. But you do not have to worry on that. We are here to enjoy our day together and that is the best gift.”

“ I agree dad.”  He concentrates on his ride in the elevator with glass walls. He feels as if he sails into the enormous blue sky like Superman. Below him, all the people has turned into moving dots.He feels tall and brave.The elevator stops and as he pushes himself out his father stops him from behind. “ Isaac! Wait for your turn. I always remind you to follow the Rules. Rules are extremely important and more exact the better.”
“ Sorry dad.”

After the mall, they visit a friend’s house who lives in a few blocks from the mall. Their house resembles a stack of beige rectangles. The rectangles are brick and they glistened after it rains. Though they look delicious, he is not supposed to taste them.That is the rule. Sometimes when he gets crazy, he licks the wall. His friend calls him retarded and his dad abruptly pulls the chair back. “ He is tired from the long hours in the mall that is all. I better take him home.”  They return home quietly; his father concentrates on the wheel and Isaac looks at the puffy white clouds and the tiny birds up in the sky.

Around six in the evening Isaac plays with his bright yellow toy train on the front porch, while his father reads a newspaper sitting on the stair. The battery of the train stops working and his toy train stops in the middle of the first round.Issac kicks the train and it hits the wall and flips. He tries hard to fix it but could not. His father closes the newspaper and looks at him.
“ Don’t be so harsh on others.”

“ Sorry dad, it will not happen again, but at the same time I do not like the way the train behaves!”

“ Have a little patience!” He sits with Isaac and helps him putting the pieces together with lots of patience. 

After dinner Isaac brings out all his rocks from a big plastic box, and spreads them on the floor. This his collection from all the national parks that he has visited with his father.Once a week, he washes and dries his rocks. Sometimes he colors them to make them brighter and happier. He feels himself as the Superman of the lifeless objects.

At the second week of August, Issac starts the middle school. His Psychiatrist has guaranteed that he is normal now.In last visit, the psychiatrist, a tall, skinny, gray-haired man Dr.Robertson asked him. “ Do you want to draw a road runner looking at the picture, while I do the tests? Or you can color it. Whichever one you like. Go ahead.”

Isaac did, he is good with eyes but with bodies! Not that much. His road runner looks like feather duster attached to a gardening rake. And now he goes to school. In the school playground he meets his old school friend Ron. He always boss him around or clearly bullies him; he kicks his desk, snaps his pencil in two, sometimes eats his lunch, bumps him from behind in the recess line. But Isaac does not how to respond so he stays quiet, does not say a word.

That afternoon it rains. The parking lot reflects the sky from a thousand puddles. His father comes to pick him after school. As Isaac walks into the house, he notices that the brick of his house is dyed dark with water. They are stacked together like crispy double vanilla sugar wafers. But he does not want to lick the brick anymore. He follows dad’s rule; no tasting the bricks. That night before, bed Issac draws a spectacular rainbow with his father, sitting on the wooden floor of the living room. And the rainbow has only his favorite colors; Blue, orange and yellow.He dreams he is riding the glass elevator into the space. The earth disappears beneath  the clouds and a billion stars. His dad says, “ You are a superhero, do you know that? “ A big  delightful smile beams on Isaac’s face.

It is a cloudless day in early summer. A few cardinals are chasing each other in the back yard through the magnolia branches. A gray squirrel is busy eating nuts. Isaac sits close to the big glass window in the dining room and eats his lucky charms in a bowl of milk.He could see the planes drawing white chalk lines in the sky. After the school, his father looks at his tired face and bruises on his hand. “ Is it Ron?”

Isaac does not reply.

“ It is time I would like to teach you how to defend yourself, son!”

The wind is moving across the yard, swirling. The leaves on the grass are all glossy and speckled. They keep lifting onto their edges then slowly toppling over. That is when his father starts to teach him to punch,how to do back kick and front kick.

Next day the a substitute teacher comes to the class; a tall, skinny young man. He allows the class to vote on everything instead of taking his own decision: “ What would you like to study next: science or history? All in favor of eating in class, raise your arms.” It is a mess. No One listens to him. As the substitute teacher leaves the classroom for lunch, the students end up eating in the class except Isaac. As Isaac opens his lunch box, Ron comes, snatches his sandwich. It falls on the floor. The whole class turn and watch but no one says a thing. During recess in the late afternoon, Isaac spots Ron on a tower. He approaches the tower and climbs the ladder. It seems as if he is riding the glass elevator. He feels tall and powerful, he rises into the clear blue sky like a superhero.Ron stands at the platform’s open edge. Isaac runs towards him and shoves him. His body hits the ground, nothing happens except a few bruises. But the principal punishes him with weeks of suspension. During the car ride from school,his father drives quietly. Isaac turns his face towards him. “It may be very wrong dad, but I had to do this. He bullies me all the time and it hurts me. I am trying to stand for myself.”

 

Her memory

Blur

Every hour a thought floats to the surface. If we’re all going to end up happy together in Heaven then why does anyone wait? A big sadness hangs behind her ribs, sharp and gleaming, and it’s all she can do to keep breathing. She does not know the reason but one early morning she had to fly to her grandfather’s house with her dog Luke. She never goes anywhere without her parents! Her grandfather’s house is long and narrow, like a train  and it has five bedrooms: a big living room in the front, a rectangle kitchen, a prayer room, one study room and other two are bedrooms.  The windows are all the same but the color and the pattern of  lacy curtains are different in each one.Grand father hugged her in the middle of a sentence and there are tears on his cheeks. “ Are you okay?” Riana asks with deep concern in her eyes.

“ Yes, now that you are here everything will be fine.” He replies. He says that there was a time when all the houses were a collective farm and grandmother used to walk everyday to work in a chemical plant. She was a brave woman. Now she has to be hooked up to her oxygen machine every night. “ It must be the chemicals!” He says with a heavy sigh. It is cancer. First they found it in my mom, then in dad in his lungs. She imagines cancer as a tree: big, black, leafless nasty tree which took her parent’s lives. Riana walked into her grandmother’s room to meet her. Her face resembles a lot with her mother. “ Hello grandma!”

She smiles and asks her to sit on her bed. “How are you young woman? It is so nice to see you here. Make yourself home and feel free to ask if you need anything. Your grandpa will help you.” “Thank you grandma.”

In the afternoon Riana stands on the front porch.Out side she can hear the little white butterflies are looping through the willows, the grasshoppers chewing the leaves.

“God made the world and everything in it.” says her grandfather. Riana thinks, then why isn’t everything perfect? She wants her parents back in her life. Up in the sky she sees her dad sipping coffee and watching the evening news and her mother reading a book leaning on the couch. Their cat is taking a nap on a piece of  old newspaper. It is not that blurry at all.

“ Tell me about my mom.” Riana asks her grandmother sitting on her bed. She glances over and then her eyes are a thousand miles away. She tells all trips down the river in boat, fun days of picnics in the park,  time that they spent in the swing set reading stories together. Suddenly she pauses and closes her eyelids. Riana understands and leaves the room quietly.

Oné rainy day,when she was five something happened to her. Her mother called the family physician and she put some drops in her eyes. Pretty soon all Riana could see are blurs and colors.Dad was a fog a mom was a smudge and world looked like it does when your eyes are full of tears. A couple of hours later, right when she was riding in the back seat of mom’s car, the world started coming back to focus. She could see the trees, the leaves more clearly dark on the top and pale on the undersides, are moving independently but still in concert with others.

Almost everyday she misses her parents; mom walking into the grocery store holding her hand or to the library picking books for her and the bicycle ride and story time with her dad.Sometimes in the silence she feels her mom, together with her, under the beautiful sun, both of with decades to live.

Her grandfather does not believe her. He sits on the edge of his bed, elbows on the small table with droopy eyes and broken blood vessels in his cheeks. He wipes his eyes and tells her that she needs read more books and start thinking about school. Riana stands close to her grandfather. “You don’t believe in anything that you can not see or feel? I believe in souls and I feel my mother on my side. Even I see her and dad sitting on the puffy cloud” Riana says angrily and leaves the room.

That night she lays in her bed with her grandmother. The unpainted plaster of the wall slowly cracking all around her. She tries to remember a sentence mom or dad said but everything seem so blurry!

Twists of Fate

Unseen

It is the weekend after the Spring break. Emmylou and her father are having breakfast. She probably should sit facing her father and not the window so he would not have to compete with the diversions outside a few kids riding their bikes, an older woman is playing with her tiny Affenpinscher dog in her front yard, the construction that is going on at the end of the cul-de-sac, two squirrels scampering through the trees. They would have to wait  for her father to finish talking about miracles.

Her father believes in those things and in grand schemes God, religion and her.A few years ago, in November, Emmylou had a car accident. There had been intermittent  freezing rain, her car slipped and hit a truck.

Her father asks taking a sip from his hot coffee. “It is unbelievable! And I am thankful to God for protecting you.” He continues, “ There is one woman runs a wildlife charity, would you like to volunteer there? Try, you may like it.” He hands her a newspaper classified.

Emmylou has made it through high school and one year of college before the car accident. She is that kid, who moves sideways, lags behind, forgets her buddy in the partner system and loses the group. She has read a report from neuropsychologist that her executive function is severely impaired due to frontal-lobe injury.

“ So,” her father says. “ Are you ready for the interview?”

Emmylou takes a long deep breath and takes a sip from her herbal tea. Art and crafts she could do well or if she could find a job that allows her to play all day, that could have been perfect. The job search has been an integral piece of their morning routine for last two years. It is a complex exchange full of limited expectations, consistent disappointment.

Her father kisses the crown of her forehead on his way out and she watches his car fades beyond the driveway.

Emmylou walks into the kitchen.On the stainless steel refrigerator door there are a few faded magnets of wonder woman, ‘ I can do it’ and ‘Believe in yourself’ that her mother made infused with her strong believes. She passed away in cancer leaving Emmylou. Emmylou misses her mother her love and the time that they spent together.She wiped her tears and  looks to the other side of the refrigerator door.There is a long note from her father.

1.Take pills.  Pills to stabilize her mood, even if each one has a side effect that thins her hair and slows her metabolism.

  1. Feed Angel.  Angel is her cat. She is eleven years old tabby, has a shiny coat,mild arrogance, lots of stubbornness and a huge appetite.
  2. Shower and dress.  Clearly later. May be she could go back to sleep again or after one more cup of herbal tea.
  3. Find clothes for the interview.  Emmylou walks into her room. Clothes are everywhere spilling from the closet, exploding out of the chest of drawers, on the floor mingled with cat hair and dust.Folding requires fine motor skills and she does not have them. Her hands are weak and she can not fold them properly. She finds one black skirt in the back of the closet and one blue silk blouse which need ironing. She has to wait on that.
  4. Think about cleaning your room.Really!!

Emmylou looks around. Reams of papers are scattered everywhere, used art supplies on the desks. By the end of week her room is a colossal accumulation of socks, broken pencils, books and magazines.Every cleaning crew that her father has ever sent over, refused to work unless she could first get her room into “ manageable” shape, a concept which she does not know. “Sure I will try cleaning the room but in my way.” Emmylou mumbles.

The rest of the day goes fine. After shower,she watches a documentary on elephants,on polar bears, on climate change. Then she sits by the window sill and watches outside A spotted squirrel focuses on an acorn. Emmylou grabs her sketch pad.The squirrel is holding the nut in his tiny hands, gnawing on it pieces by pieces. She imagines his determination which pulses through her pencil creatively. She is almost done with her picture when her dad returns home.

Today her father has brought Chinese food for dinner so that they do not have to cook. He hands her a fortune cookie from the bag. “Open it.”

Emmylou opens it. “ Door will be opening for you.” it says.

“You see?” her dad says with a big grin. “ You never know what life will bring.”

Emmylou rolls her eyes. “You are taking a fortune cookie to heart?”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he says. “ The cookie knows.Tomorrow we will go together to the nature center, you will feed the ducks and approach the owner for the interview. And the door will open for you. You love to take care of the animals and this will be a perfect opportunity for you.” There is confidence in his voice and Emmylou is excited.

New Year

Year

It is almost midnight. Daphne pulls out her journal, not the old one but a brand new one in shiny cover. A precious Christmas gift from her daughter. In that journal every page starts with a unique quotes. Yes, this is perfect! She opens the first page to write her New Year’s resolutions. The whole situation plays like a movie. Imagine that you are the main character either in a movie or in a book and you wish to do some things. Suddenly towards the end of the story boom!All your wishes are granted. Just like that Daphne smiles as she starts to write the resolutions one after another and feels as if they are almost in her fingertips. It is no doubt that she is very determined and she may be successful. She pauses, her fingers caress her pointed chin,and then opens the old journal. There is a heavy sigh. She checks all her last year’s goals – she has achieved some of her resolutions in writing posts on refugee crisis, on women’s issues and on poverty.Then she wanted to do more volunteer work which she has not done in this year. The other important aspect is her health.Well, she goes to the gym regularly which is perfect although she ends up in the classes like kickboxing, RIPP instead of yoga or spinning. Daphne is head strong but her weakness is the sweet. This Christmas she went to the store to buy gifts. She had the list but strange thing happens as she steps into the store, mostly in the aisle with chocolates and cookies. So that day she returned with gifts and two big boxes of chocolates. She nodded her head in disbelief and the chocolate lasted only for a week At the end of the week the boxes were neat and clean like brand new boxes and ready to be recycled.The exercise will help you thirty percent but diet is the other seventy percent to be healthy that is her  doctor’s prescription. 

Daphne stops writing and leans against the cushion. There is silence in the room and it is so quiet that you can hear the hum of the refrigerator. A sudden brightness flashes on her face.  “Not to worry.”She adjusts herself on the chair more comfortably and opens the new journal again. “ I will start all over again.This year I will not get any sweets, sign up for more volunteer program and practice mindful meditation.” A big challenging smile plays on her lips. 

Daphne stretches her legs, then crosses her legs and opens the new journal.As she bends down to write the inner window in her mind pops open. “ Are you sure that your goals are realistic? You do not want to write them and forget as the days pass by. Are you??”

A deep sigh again. She sits with both elbows on the desk, rubs her forehead and sits with both hands on each side of her face.

Making resolutions at the start of the New Year is like the season for orange or blue berry. Everyday would be filled with false starts and high ambitions. She might even make a lots of progress towards the goal but ultimately she would always give up before reaching the goal. Daphne has a high hope that everything will turn around perfect in this year. She has to do something different. The entire New year resolution phenomenon essentially boils down to habit-making and habits are built over time. Her job is to contribute a bit each and every day until the habits are built. Daphne sits straight. Now her face is brightly illuminated with a strong hope and determination.

resolutio1

Wishing on a star

Hopeful

A little girl is shouldering through the crowds.She walks in the middle of all the legs, luggage’s and lots and lots of children. Her heart beats like a tambourine under her ribs, tight and loud.The crowd follow their paths pushing and pulling around her,paying no attention at all. Her breath comes in short breaths like Carter’s horse and she feels tired. She is in the crowd but alone. The air smells of sweaty fear.Just at the corner of a pile of rocks, her memory bag slips and falls into the ground from her shoulder. A lots of happy memories are there; lots of from her home, her friends, her parents. But also the sad and scary memories of running around with her mother, hiding in cramped spaces,  squeezing the bodies and holding each other.The memory of hunger; it grew insatiably; her mouth began to expand, its roof rose to the top of her skull then the whole head was racked with pain. Some people ate grass and garbage and she just drew her tongue and chewed on nothing. She fights the urge to reach down and touch them. But she stops.

“ Sara! Sara!, wake up!”

Sara opens her eyes., startled and gasping for air. It is middle of the night. She notices a woman approximately the age of her mother stands close to her bed and observes her closely. “ Tell me dear,are you having bad dreams?” She says with a warm smile. The woman picks up the blanket from the floor and asks, “ Would you like to come outside to the celebration? There are lots of kids of your age to welcome the new year. There will be lots of fireworks too!”

Sara looks outside and then back at the woman’s face. The smile on the lady’s face is wide open, sunny without a doubt that everything will be wonderful again but six years old Sara is doubtful. The rebel army killed her parents, her friends and took away everything that they had. Faith is a distant and a vague word now. She hesitates a little but changes her mind. As Sara climbs down from the bed, the lady takes a quick step and holds her hand.She has lost her right leg in a gunshot during the rebel attack.

Outside of the ten, in the vast open space the fireworks have started. Happiness, excitement and new hopes float in the air.Tonight Sara wants to dream again. She closes her eyes, leaning on a tree. Her prayer for the New Year is something different. “ I want people to be nice, to be respectful and to love each other. I hope for peace, just peace nothing else.”

peace

 

 

 

Dense fog and sunny day

Discover

There is no time for luck or good fortune or discovering new things in life instead to be at work from early morning to midnight. Jade works in a garment factory where she sews until her arms fall asleep. She sews elegant and expensive dresses which wind up looking very nice on Italian, Canadian, Swedish, American women, different ones for every season. Cutting, stitching, finishing, ironing, packing all the time makes life more difficult when you are not worthy of the product. It is difficult to break the agreement and to look for another job. She sits quietly looking at her severely dry long bony fingers. Her father used to say that long fingers are perfect for drawing, playing piano or any musical instrument, they are very artistic fingers. She remembers when for the first time she played the ‘Flight of the bumbled bee’; she played like lightning, every note so clear and perfect that the audience  were mesmerized and then clapped hard. It was her greatest revelation. But now it seems as though her life has been rolled up like a newspaper, fastened with a rubber band and tossed into the bushes. After her father passed away she started the job in this garment factory. A fat fly buzzes in circle just above her head. It settles on her one arm, she tries to swat it. Then it lands on the back of her neck, below her ear. It escapes and perches on the window frame. Jade tries to shoo it out through the open window into the air; she wants it to fly freely in the open air and to enjoy its freedom. She wants it also for herself and the people of Syria.

Sunlight falls in the long hall, while fluorescent light burns overhead. All the ladies are like tired children of a camp. Jade’s heart thumps inside her head. She leaves the half-stitched dress in the showing machine and grabs her small handbag.

Next morning She stands with a cup of hot tea. she holds the chipped cup delicately pinching the curved handle between her thumb and forefinger. She looks outside of her kitchen window. There the small black birds fly through a vast stretch of sky in circles of their own invention. This morning they are flying low and by looking at them she could tell that it is a whole new day.

Jade does not have the luxury of a car so she walks aimlessly on the streets to discover something new. The street side vendors are a destination, inviting her to linger. She sits on a wooden stool and orders ice-cream. Just when her exasperation at the wait  reaches the breaking point, the ice-cream arrives. It is a mix flavors of vanilla, chocolate with so many nuts. She takes one spoonful of ice-cream and it is delicious! She leans at the edge of the chair, her eyes wander around. At one corner of the street, under a small leafy tree an old woman sits. She is very frail and bony and from her torn, heavily patched cloth she looks very poor. She stares straight ahead, seemingly lost in memories. Jade stops eating and walks up to the woman. “ Would you like to try this?” She asks as she hands her the cup. She opens her purse and gives a few rupees. A grateful, happy warm smile lingers on the old lady’s face.

It is almost evening. Jade is all wrapped up, the decorated street lamps and lighted windows are glittering, the frost bit into her face, her lips feel like frozen crusts of bread, cheeks are smooth and cold as porcelain. The sky and streets are full of Christmas spirit. Jade stands in-front of a shop, her arms folded on her stomach, one foot crossed. The concentration is on the beautiful gown on the mannequin. “ I would love to see that on me.” Then she steps back. She has to save the money until she finds another job. “ Well, nothing wrong in just trying.” She murmurs and walks into the store. The heavy glass door opens in a soft click. She stands in-front of the long rectangular mirror with the dress. The sales woman asks her adjusting the belt on the dress. “ It looks so pretty on you and fits perfectly. Would you like to buy this?”

“ I will think about it, thank you.” Jade replies touching the soft fabric of the  blue dress and watching the news on the small television on the wall-” The evacuation of civilians and fighters from the last rebels held part of Aleppo ended yesterday, after weeks of heavy fighting, Damascus announces complete victory in the battle to retake eastern Aleppo from rebels.”

That is the best part of her discovery. The dress falls into the floor as she runs around the room, a huge smile sparkle on her overly excited face, she is happy for all the people and especially the children . Her struggle is not much comparable to the people of Aleppo.

Her inner strength

Calm

Nora wants to live more than a hundred years. She has planned everything in her mind, in front of her the future has stretched out like a long shimmering road.  But the other day when she fainted in her gym class, the doctor in the hospital told her  mother that her lungs are not good. But it can be changed. She has to draw the cool, clean air in, treasure it and release it and she has to stay a couple of days in the hospital. That will make her lung good as new. Ten years old Nora is confident that she can do it.  Although it is hard for her mother Maisie.

Nora dwindles over packing, folding, refolding her clothes, tucking in a few moments to brighten up her room before she leaves for the hospital. She squares the cover of her bedsheet, smooths the bedspreads,tilts the shade of the lamp cover of the reading lamp. She stands in the middle of the oval rug. Her room is small but tidy and decorated in shades of blue, her favorite color. Each significant object has a name and to each she says goodbye or rather until they meet again. Nora closes the door.

Maisie is busy or rather tries hard to stay that way in the kitchen. It is hard for her to see her daughter in this condition. Nora runs into the kitchen. “ Mom, Uncle Jess is here to take me to the hospital.” No answer but Nora knows her mother is sad and afraid. Nora hugs her mother with her small hands. “ I will be fine mom, and come visit me in the hospital.” Her mother sighs. Nora picks up her small suitcase.

The air is cold. From the car window Nora looks at the house. Her mother stands there leaning slightly to the metal mail box in her walker. She waives her hand to her mother and wipes her tears.

There is not much to do in the hospital wake up,  take bath, eat, read,take nap, watch television and be patient while the doctor takes a lots of test. The ward is alive with gossip, mostly about the imaginary romances between this or that girl or a boy or men. It is like a soap opera to her like the ones that come in television and her mom always say they are not real, just wastage of time and brain. Nora spends her time in reading the encyclopedias that her mother brought for her. She loves the mysteries inside and the beautiful information in them, their sedate dark-green binding, gold letters on their spines. She slides the little tower of books towards her slowly as though they are gathered treasure. Reading makes her calmer; she does not care about the hospital or health, she is confident that everything will be fine.

On the other hand her room-mate Liona is quite different. She loves to gossip in the phone with her friends. Some days she invites Nora to meet her friends in the lobby. But they laugh a little, sit pretty on the sofa touching their fancy jeweleries or adjusting their new hairstyles, gossiping on useless topics. “They are less sympathetic than the ambulance chasers. They are not real friends.” Nora murmurs to herself. When her mother comes to visit her the ward turns into a playground as if azaleas bloom and honeysuckle perfumes the air. Her mother tries to stay calm but sometimes she is washed to the emotion of rage which she does not know how to control its directions. At the end of the month  it started to get harder for her mother to see Nora in the hospital. She wants her to go to school, play with her friends and to have a normal life. She argued with the doctors. “ Nothing has happened to my daughter. She will be fine at home and I will take good care of her.” 

Just before Christmas Nora returns home with her mother. They sit in their living room. The bare  Douglas-fir-tree sits on the corner of the room and the ornaments in a metal container. Her mother smiles brightly at her. “ Have faith and everything will be alright.” She says wrapping her hand around Nora tight as a robin’s nest. As they hang the ornaments on the fir-tree, her mother says,“ You are an angel straight from heaven.”

 

Image result for image of a christmas tree

Surprising Turns

Moody

Maeve has been blessed with beauty and a pencil. Her beauty comes from within she is honest and kind-hearted, and the pencil – a gift to open up her creativity. The other day when she was begging for food in a crowded town in Calcutta, a shiny white car stopped at the curb of the road. Maeve ran towards it with a plastic bowl as a woman stepped out from the car. She waved her hand as the gold bracelets jingled and hid her beautiful leather black purse behind her back. “ I do not have any money to spare, go away. ” She began walking off.  She pivoted sharply back towards Maeve, “here take this pencil, it may help you.” The yellow pencil bounced a couple of times on the dirty road and then laid still on the side of the road. Maeve walked up quickly and picked up the pencil very gently in her small hand. From that day onwards that became her treasure.

She picks up torn, wrinkled papers from the side of the roads, from the fields, from the school grounds and last time she struggled with a cow for ten minutes to drag a perfect white paper from cow’a mouth. She collects them and in her spare time draws pictures on them with the perfect yellow pencil. Her father does not like her spending time in useless things instead he wants her to spend more time in begging. Every night after Maeve returns home, her father snatches the plastic bowl and takes all the coins. He spends her daughter’s begged coins in drinking cheap liquor. Her mother on the other hand encourages Maeve to draw. “Maeve, take a break. Your father will return late today so spend your time in drawing whatever you want to.” Her mother says in a warm voice placing in front of her a thin piece of white bread and cup of black tea in a chipped cup. Maeve is grateful to the woman who gave her the pencil and to her mom who allows her to draw. She wraps both her small hands around her mother’s waist. Delight blooms on her face.“Thank you mom, you are the best.”

But life is very moody just like the humans. It is a one long curve, full of turning points.

It is a rainy day in December. The rain continues for a long time, the thunder lasts for more than an hour rumbling low and long. Instead of staying inside the patched gray tent which is their house, Maeve’s father decides to take her to another bigger town. “ But dad, it is raining outside and I am not feeling well. Let’s go tomorrow.” She begs as she tries to cover herself with one of her mom’s torn blue saree and concentrates on her drawing. Her mother insists not to let go of Maeve but father’s deep voice echoes. “ Yes, she has to go and I have already talked to the woman.”

“ What woman? Where are we going?” Maeve asks her dad. But no answer. “ Go get ready, we have to go today.” There is nothing to pack except one dress and her pencil and drawing papers in a plastic bag. As they leave, her mother hugs her tightly. She cries muttering repeatedly to forgive her. Eight year’s old Maeve’s simple heart does not understand anything, but she leans into her mom’s frail body. “ We will come back soon, don’t worry mom and I will surprise you with prettier drawings.” Her mother stands there outside the tent, in the rain, crying loudly and begging her father to stop.

Life is moody; sometimes it brings you joy and sometimes unbearable sorrows.No one can predict the next moment.

It is a long walk. In one point of the day, the rain stops and the sun tries hard to peep out from behind the cloud. Maeve and her father sits under a dull green woody tree waiting for a bus.His father sits looking out with his back against the tree trunk. His knees bent and feet flat against the red-brown sand. In front of him the landscape is speckled with a few trees that stand either alone or in group. Maeve opens the lunch bag that her mother packed. After lunch she asks “ Dad! Are we going to the doctor? If not sick then why are we going to another town?”

“ Have patience.” His father’s voice is dry and irritated. Maeve decides to talk to the tree nearby and ask the same question. The tree at one point clears its woody throat and says, “ I can not answer your question but I am very thirsty and can barely talk.” Maeve runs to her father’s side to get the water bottle and pours all the water on the tree. “ I hope that quenches your thirst.” Her father screams, “come here and sit quietly.”

As Maeve turns towards her father, she notices that the water that she poured over the tree has risen to her father’s face and they drip from his eyes.

As they drive off in the bus, she waves goodbye to the tree but surprises at his father’s tears. He never cries!

After a few hours they reach in another town. It is almost night. A harmony of shrieking metal-wheeled carts, barking dogs and gentle rhythm of human noises. They unroll a thin gray blanket under a tree. Maeve sits there staring at the zig-zag white patterns that pierced the woven sky and slowly drifts into sleep. Next morning is a cloudy day.They start to walk and arrive at the destination after three hours; a two-story red house squats upon the  hill with a group of wind-tormented trees opposite to it. The bricks are chipped, sharp and eroded at the corners The guard at the gate lets them in. A narrow stony staircase leads to a tall red door. As you enter it opens up into a long, narrow hallway which is lit by a single light bulb. A faded plain beige carpet with painted flowers on the sides is on the floor. At the other end of the hallway there is a thick  maroon colored curtain and a small bell on the white wall. Maeve’s father rings the bell. A tall woman appears in a fancy saree. Her arms are crossed, her eyes narrowed and eyebrows lift over icy brown eyes. “ You are late!! Leave her here and go back home.”

Maeve’s dad nods his head and shifts her attention to his daughter. “ It is all my fault darling. I do not have any other option.” He moves forward to hug Maeve as he hears a strong commanding voice from behind.

“Leave now.” The guard thrusts a thick envelope into his hand.

Maeve glances at his father’s face.Their gazes touch and from him she feels  terror and panic. “ Father do not leave me here.” She holds her pencil tightly in her hand as warm tears roll down on her cheek.  Her small body thumps on the floor. “ Listen dad, I just want to draw pictures, if you want then I will sale them and bring a lots of money to help you. You do not have to worry. But do not leave me alone with strange people. Give me a chance to your little girl. Dad! Dad!”